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Here’s the Deal

April 5, 2012

I have a history of an eating disorder.  I was diagnosed, treated, and worked like a dog to call myself recovered.   I think the only way I could have let myself work as hard as I did was to believe that I would never be back there again.  So I believed that.  I preached that.  And then I found out it just doesn’t work that way.  It is no wonder that my black and white mind found comfort in believing it.

Some periods of relapse have been more intense than others.  Sometimes, my eating disordered thoughts snake their way into my mind and it goes no further than that.  That is not what happened this time.

For a few months now, I have been feeling dissatisfaction with my body.  Well, that’s doesn’t really capture it.  Occasionally I have felt ok, reminding myself that my loose stomach muscles and sagging breasts are a badge of honor.   I carried and nursed 3 children, after all.   Other times, I felt dissatisfaction.  Especially when I decided that other moms don’t look this way.   But more and more, I was feeling a disgust.  A deep self-loathing that would come to me at night, while trying to fall asleep.    Thoughts of restriction would occur to me.  But mostly, I just tuned out and if I did anything, I actually tended to overeat.  I felt out of control and feared what would become of my body.

Two weeks ago, my negative body image was particularly strong while I was sitting at my weekly therapist appointment.  It was a Friday.  The next day we had a party at my house.  I felt strong when I walked past the chips.  Sometimes I ate them, but other times, my body shivered with excitement at my strength to restrict.  I felt downright victorious when I did not eat a cupcake or a slice of cake at my daughter’s party.  I didn’t even want a cupcake!  I had made them, served them, watched other people eat them, and still I did not even WANT one.  I was one powerful woman.  Ha.

The next few days followed with me eating each meal, but less than I wanted.  I felt hungry most of the day.  This felt good.  I knew that I only had a week to reverse any damage that my previous months of overeating had done.  Why only a week?  Because I’m just not that good at being defiant.  Once I had my next Friday appointment, I knew my therapist would find a way to make the healthy thoughts start to filter through.  Once the people in my life know what I’m doing, I am just not good at saying, “No, I won’t eat.”  I’m too afraid I’ll make them worry, or hurt them, or even anger them.  (Isn’t that the same thinking that leads me down this road?  It is a curse and a blessing I guess.)  So, I had a week to keep this private.  I didn’t tell my husband.   Thursday came and the pressure of the self-imposed deadline was weighing heavy. I ate my breakfast.  Lunch time came.  Lunch time went.  I fed my kids, but not myself.  I was so hungry, especially since I had already been restricting.  I started to think about dinner.  I knew that my husband was working late.  The plan started to formulate.  I wasn’t sure I could last, but I knew that my Friday appointment would wreck my weight loss plan. The plan was I would not eat another thing on Thursday, and then Friday I would eat normally.   Dinner time came.  Dinner time went.  I fed my kids, but not myself.  I climbed into bed before my husband even came home.  This way, I didn’t have to experience my hunger and I didn’t trust myself to lie to my husband about what was for dinner:  Nothing.

I woke up in the middle of the night feeling nauseaus.   I thought, if I can just escape to sleep again, I will not feel this.  So, I did.  Friday morning, I ate a mostly normal breakfast.  I had a little less cereal than usual.  Then, I thought, It wasn’t as hard to not eat on Thursday as I thought it would be.  No lunch would feel so good.  And so, that’s how it went.  I drove to my Friday therapy appointment.  By the time I sat in her office, I was shaking.  I was sure that the pain in my head couldn’t get worse.  I was so nauseaus, I thought I was going to vomit.

She spent the first 20 minutes talking me into a supervised snack.  It was so hard to break my streak of not eating.  I had worked so hard to get to this point.  If I caved now, what was it all for?  On the other hand, if I didn’t eat now, how would I drive home?   So I ate.  Slowly.  Tentatively.

My husband came home early and held my hand, physically and emotionally that weekend.  At one point I flipped through some earlier journal entries.  I came across some from almost 3 years ago.  I went through a rough patch in 2009 that I remember as mostly being about feeling anxious and depressed, and that maybe some eating issues were there for some of it.  I was stunned to find that entries about eating went on for a year.  One year. It scared me.  I don’t have that kind of time to give to such an unworthy cause.

Still, after reading those entries, almost every part of me wanted to continue my quest for thinness.  When I was eating I was doing it because my husband and therapist were monitoring my meals.  But it was one of the first healthy thoughts I had in this freight train of a week.

In the next few posts, I want to write about what happens after that.   I don’t want this to be another year long struggle.  I want to get back to me, to my core, quicker.  I can do it.

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